Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hosea 4: 6-10

6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

7 The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me;
I will change their glory into shame.
8 They feed on the sin of My people
And direct their desire toward their iniquity.
9 And it will be, like people, like priest;
So I will punish them for their ways
And repay them for their deeds.
10They will eat, but not have enough;
They will play the harlot, but not increase,
Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.

When God led the Israelites on their exodus to the Promised Land and beyond, He had some very detailed and intentional plans on how His people should carry out their worship of Him. Along with the giving of The Law and the presentation of the daily manna, there are chapters of instruction on the creation of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting, as well as the selection of Aaron and the tribe of Levi (the Levites) to be consecrated as priests--the mediators between the people and God.

"...and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
--Exodus 19:6

I'm sure there are many today who think that trouble within the priesthood is a fairly recent issue, probably, due to the increase in media coverage of such issues. But, the trouble with the priesthood dates back to the time when God put such an establishment into being. Why? Because priests are not God, and they were never meant to be God. Were they expected to uphold righteousness and holiness to the best of their human ability? Absolutely! God certainly had expectations for them, which is why He selected individuals from only one tribe of Israel in which to serve, and placed heavy demands on their training (and severe punishment--as in death--for those who did not fulfill their roles wholeheartedly).

At the time of Hosea, the priests were unrecognizable from the rest of the Israelites.

"My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests."
--vs. 6, New Living Translation

Israel, "My priest" or "the priestly nation," as the Amplified Bible puts it, could not possibly continue forward as representative of God in that it appeared as the complete opposite of what God was. "The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me." When I see 'multiply', I think many in number. Again, I think the Amplified Bible explains this term more accurately in referring to the increase of Israel's "power and prosperity." The nation was growing stronger and richer, but all under its own effort and without the guidance of God's Word. This was not at all what God wanted for His people. Not the better way! And, since He is always in charge, He would "change their glory into shame."

Have had some fun reading different translations this week [OK, well, maybe not fun. This is really strong Word], especially in regard to verse 8.

"You encourage others to sin, so you can stuff yourselves on their sin offerings."
--vs. 8, Contemporary English Version
"They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity."
--vs. 8, King James' Version

Since the focus of the passage has been on the priests, it makes sense to consider 'sin' as 'sin offering'. Under God's provision, though the priests were allotted a portion of certain offerings in Aaron's day, the priests in Hosea's day were taking way more than seconds! The King James' gets to the point--"they set their heart on their [the people's] iniquity." They were counting on the people's abundantly sinful nature to provide an abundance of offering for themselves.

Our passage concludes with God's plan, then, to punish the priests along with the people. They will be given food, but, unlike the daily manna of old, not enough food to satisfy their hunger. They will seek other "harlots" (vs. 10)--other sources of fulfillment--but they will not "increase," or know prosperity, as we spoke of earlier. They will be in the "not a people" stage, as we reflect back on Gomer's son, Lo-ammi. "...Like people, like priest." (vs. 9). Truly, this is where we find Israel today. From my study Bible:

"Israel temporarily forfeited this privilege [of being a royal priesthood] because of its apostasy [at its most basic level, meaning, to withdraw or stand apart from one's faith] and because its wicked leaders executed the Messiah. At the present time, the church is a royal priesthood united with the royal priest, Jesus Christ. A royal priesthood is not only a priesthood that belongs to and serves the king, but is also a priesthood which exercises rule. This will ultimately be fulfilled in Christ's future kingdom."

A time will come when Israelite and Gentile will stand side by side in the kingdom--each able to claim this verse as its own:

"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."
--I Peter 2: 9 & 10

Harlotry and impure sacrifices...Picking up where we leave off today.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 4: 11-14

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

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